The children said Mary appeared to them first on May 13, 1917, when Jacinta was seven years old, Francisco nine and Lucia 10.
The siblings, born into a poor family, fell sick during the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic which racked Europe after the First World War, with Francisco succumbing to the illness in 1919, and Jacinta following in 1920 aged just nine.
Both are buried at the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Fatima, which Francis will visit during his May 12-13 trip to mark the centenary of their first sight of Mary.
Francis’s approval of the miracle attributed to them — reportedly the curing of a Brazilian boy — was the final step needed before the children could be made saints.
They will be the youngest non-martyrs to be canonized in the history of the church.
After her first visit, the Virgin Mary is said to have appeared to them several times over a six-month period, always on the 13th.
This prompted thousands to gather on the spot on October 13, 1917, with several witnesses saying they had seen the sun “miraculously” dance in the sky.
Read More: Pope to make Fatima child visionaries saints » Manila Bulletin News